18 Mar 2006

Marshalls in new bid to tackle illegal immigrants

10:39 am on 18 March 2006

There are moves in the Marshall Islands to crack down on the number of Chinese nationals overstaying and working illegally.

The Marshall Islands parliament is considering two major pieces of legislation to overhaul its immigration and labour rules.

Public hearings in parliament this week focussed on new immigration and labour bills in what is the government's first legislative effort in recent years to tackle an out-of-control illegal alien situation in the country.

As the two bills were being introduced, immigration, labor and police officials raided a Chinese-owned restaurant in the capital city of Majuro and arrested eight overstayers.

The acting immigration chief, Aaron Silk, said the group were released but will face charges after overstaying their visas.

Three weeks ago, a long-serving immigration chief, Isaac Lanwi, was suspended without pay after the Attorney General revealed that he had illegally issued six visas to Chinese nationals last year.